Greetings, Future Tensers,
On Friday, we launched the Future of the Future, our monthlong series on all the ways we plan for things to come. As Dan Gardner writes, we tend to only remember predictions about the future that come true. But given our reliance on future-thinking, it’s time to start reflecting more critically on our predictions. For instance, taking a look at how polling failed us in the 2016 election can help us fix flawed methods for a politically polarized era. Rachel Withers shows us how reflecting on Walt Disney’s vision for Tomorrowland can help us evaluate contemporary visionaries like Elon Musk.
One common thread in these pieces is the difficulty of making predictions around climate change. In light of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Will Oremus went deep on the prediction models economists use to determine how much the future is worth and how they affect spending on safeguards against natural disasters. Global warming is also shaping the future of military strategy, according to Peter W. Singer, author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. Isaac Chotiner spoke with Singer about future threats, how Russia has shaken things up, and whether the U.S. military is really ready for the next world war.
Other things we read after getting schooled by this quiz on historical predictions about the future:
- Dreams of virtual reality: Jacob Brogan explores what the real-world proliferation of virtual reality means when the medium has always been so intrinsic to how we imagine future technologies.
- No Ph.D. required: Want to help shape the future? Citizen science is giving non-scientists new ways to get involved, write Darlene Cavalier and Jason Lloyd.
- Re-meme-bering history: Read about how the Library of Congress is archiving new forms of internet culture and how the web is "self-archiving” like “a landfill.”
- Smartphone fouls: The Red Soxs have been caught using Apple watches to steal rival signals. Will Oremus explains why this might be the biggest thing to ever happen to the mediocre wearable.